Baya had retreated behind the counter, as if waiting for something. Grace pressed her palms into her temples. What are you doing here? She stared at the snow clinging to the window panes, but all she could see was the slope of Baya’s shoulder, the tuck of her waist, the cobalt polish on her pinkies. Her heart kicked her back teeth. Afraid to turn around, shetook out her laptop and began to work through a brief.
“You look distracted.” Baya set down a pastel mug of chamomile tea. “It’s still blizzarding. My dad was going to pick me up but that’s a no-go. Do you want to see what’s in the fridge?”
“I’ve got wine, cheese and rice cakes,” Grace gestured to the Whole Foods bag.
“Two of three of out three ain’t bad.” Baya grabbed her hand, “come on.”
Grace’s belly fluttered as she blundered out of her chair.
The kitchen ran the length of the building. Vault-like ovens stood at either end, connected by a deep counter whose solid wooden line was broken by two white sinks in the centre and an industrial oven on the left. Parallel to the counter was an island, topped in silvery marble, that took most of the remaining floor space. A beige fridge-freezer faced the stove. Baya disappeared behind its open door, humming.
Grace’s feet stuck to the floor, her tongue to the roof of her mouth.
An arm emerged to set a carton of eggs on the island, followed by cream, a wedge of cheese, a plastic ice cream tub, and a lemon. The freezer door opened and a bag of broccoli florets joined the collection.
“That’s makings of some kick-ass gluten free pasta with cream sauce and green stuff. Wanna turn on the oven? It’s the best way to get this place warm.”
Grateful for a task, Grace took her time adjusting the fist-sized knobs. When she turned, Baya had plucked utensils from the small-gauge iron pipe fitted at head height on the wall behind the counter and was elbow deep in a bowl, puffs of flour rising to coat her arms and apron.
“You have wine?”
The corkscrew slid from Grace’s fingers, crashed on the terracotta tiles.
“Aren’t you supposed to drink, then drop things?”
Grace couldn’t smile for the block lodged behind her tonsils. She bent over the bottle, worked the cork free. The Sangiovese gleamed ruby in octagonal water glasses. Baya nodded to her buried hands and Grace held the glass to her lips, stretching to follow the back-curve of her neck. A few drops escaped Baya’s mouth. Grace stared, paralysed, then leaned in and licked them away.
Grace flushed, legs unsteady. “I’m sorry.”
“No.” Baya, who was head shorter, hoisted herself onto the counter so they were eye to eye, then wrapped around Grace and kissed her mouth. Grace’s hand rose to Baya’s breasts. Then all four of their hands were fumbling at the apron string knot and tugging her V-neck tee.
“Instinctively, she sucked one cardamom-coloured nipple, then the other, thrilling as they hardened beneath her tongue.”
A bloom of heat lodged in Grace’s pelvis, spilling lava through her veins. Baya deftly unfastened her bra and her breasts spilled into Grace’s hands like risen dough. Instinctively, she sucked one cardamom-coloured nipple, then the other, thrilling as they hardened beneath her tongue.
Running her hands along the curves of Baya’s torso, her fingers caught in her waistband.